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UC San Diego Launches New Center on Healthy Aging and Senior Care

Dilip Jeste named first associate dean and director of center

Dilip Jeste

Dilip V. Jeste, MD, Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Neurosciences, has been appointed the first associate dean for Healthy Aging and Senior Care at the University of California, San Diego and will direct the newly established Center on Healthy Aging and Senior Care.

The appointment recognizes the broad and growing interest, research and need to improve and promote the long-term health and well-being of older Americans, who comprise an ever-larger percentage of the U.S. population. In 2009, roughly one in eight Americans was 65 years and older. In 2030, that ratio is projected to be one in five.

As the Estelle and Edgar Levi Chair in Aging and director of the Sam and Rose Stein Institute for Research on Aging, both at UC San Diego, Jeste has long been a leading scientist and advocate for greater understanding of how Americans age – and how to help them do so well and healthfully.

“When I first became involved in this type of research two decades ago, aging was viewed as all doom and gloom. Old age was defined by disease, dementia, disability and death. But I’ve found that aging has an important positive side too. There is, of course, some physical decline and cognitive impairment with aging, but several parts of  psychosocial functioning actually improve. In terms of well-being and emotional regulation, as people get older, even if they are more physically impaired, they tend to be more satisfied with life. It’s the paradox of aging, and it’s something that I think we must address, explore, investigate and understand. We need to stop thinking about how older people are a burden to society and instead focus on how they are a foundation, the personification of resilience, knowledge and wisdom.”

David Brenner, MD, vice chancellor for Health Sciences and dean of the School of Medicine, said the new center will help make UC San Diego a local, national and global leader “in not just clinical care, research and training, but also in innovation and health policy for seniors. And Dr. Jeste is, with his unsurpassed scientific expertise, vision and tireless advocacy in these areas, ideally suited to lead this collaborative effort across the campus.”

Jeste’s primary areas of research focus have been the neuropsychiatric and neurobiological characteristics of schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease and the development and psycho-bio-social treatment of late-life psychoses. In recent years, he has devoted much of his time to  characterizing the nature and neurobiology of a successful and healthy mental state, particularly among older adults.

Jeste said the center would seek to become a major think tank for senior care policy, research and training, developing new evidence-based, personalized and cost-effective healthcare models, and helping train new generations of physicians, pharmacists and scientists to address the key and specific issues of an aging America.

“The center will be about continuing our efforts to conduct hard, rigorous science, but to do so in a balanced way, not just investigating the negative impacts of aging, but also the positive. It will be broad-based. We will be doing studies of successful aging in people with cancer, diabetes, heart disease and HIV, which will shed light not just on those diseases but also on how and why some older people do better.

“Initially, the focus will be health and health care, but over time I’d like the center to go beyond to other questions about how society prepares itself for rapidly growing numbers of older people – in terms of technologies, finances, housing, transportation and urban planning, for example. We’ll draw upon experts throughout UC San Diego, nationally and internationally.”

Jeste received his medical education in India at the University of Poona and the University of Bombay, followed by psychiatry and neurology residencies at Cornell University and George Washington University, respectively.  He did a research fellowship and then was on the staff of the National Institute of Mental Health in Washington, D.C. In 1986 he  joined the faculty of UC San Diego.

He is the author of 11 books,  more than 575 articles in peer-reviewed journals and 125 invited book chapters. He is editor-in-chief of the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

In his almost three decades at UC San Diego, Jeste has served in many positions of leadership. Currently, he is director of education for the UC San Diego Clinical and Translational Research Institute and chief of the Geriatric Psychiatry Division at UC San Diego Health System and VA San Diego Healthcare System.

Jeste is past president of the American Psychiatric Association (APA), the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry and the West Coast College of Biological Psychiatry, and founding president of the International College of Geriatric Psychoneuropharmacology.

Jeste is a member of the Institute of Medicine, part of the National Academy of Sciences, and has served on the first National Institutes of Health Council of Councils.

Jeste has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors, among them:  the A.E. Bennett Neuropsychiatric Research Award from the Society of Biological Psychiatry; the Jack Weinberg Memorial Award in Geriatric Psychiatry; two Distinguished Lecturer Awards from the APA; listing in The Best Doctors in America and in the Institute of Scientific Information’s “world's most cited authors” comprising less than 0.5% percent of all publishing researchers of the previous two decades; a Lifetime Service Award from the American College of International Physicians; Exemplary Psychiatrist Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness; and Distinguished Investigator Award from the National Alliance for Research in Schizophrenia and Affective Disorders.